Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Not MORE crime; it's LESS!

[I'm tired of hearing "there's more crime than ever," "look at all the crime in our streets" and "crime is totally out of control"]

These are usually lazy-thinking responses to our society's other pressing problems, like over population, a desperate attempt to make sense of a troubled world and/or an easy way to blame everything we don't understand on something else.

Now, it would be great if we could blame "everything" that's wrong with America on the criminal—just lock them all up and everything would be "rosy" again. We could quit brainstorming why things are so bad and get back to our TV, movies and sports. But that type of thinking just won't fly.

If you do a little research, you'll find that not only is the crime rate NOT causing our news-headlined woos, but that the U.S. violent crime rate has been declining for the last 14 years. "Statistics of the past decade show that crime rates in Germany, the UK and the U.S. have declined. Yet amazingly, the citizens of all three countries believe that crime is up for the period.

Elliott Wave International adds, "In the U.S., crime has been falling 'fairly consistently' since 1991 as well, but the public’s perception seems to be the opposite, 'as evidenced by the multiplication of gated communities across the nation and the booming business done by home security industry' (DW)."

Why do people think there's more crime? Well, just think about our increased media coverage in the last 30 years. Newspapers, TV, radio and Web sites blast out crime stories in bundles, in minutes of the actual event, all day and night long. You hear and see crime stories on the air and on the front pages that you would have never even had access to years ago, let alone thrown in you face. Crime stories are still good business for the media and you're paying the bills.

Still not convinced? Here are the facts!

Bureau of Justice Statistics Press Releases

Family Violence Statistics, 06/12/05: "Rate of family violence dropped by more than one-half from 1993 to 2002"

Crime and the Nation's Households, 2003, 10/27/04: "Crime victimization in U.S. households remains at lowest levels—15 percent affected in 2003 compared to 25 percent in 1994"

Criminal Victimization, 2003, 09/12/04: "Violent and property crime remain at lowest rates in 30 years"

Hispanic Victims of Violent Crime, 1993-2000/Vïctimas Hispanas de Crímenes Violentos, 1993-2000, 03/13/02: "Rate of violent crime victimization among Hispanics drops more than 50 percent in the last seven years."

"Serious violent crime levels declined since 1993 as measured by the National Crime Victimization Survey," also says The White House.

I found even more revealing U.S. government stats that show "violent crime rates" to be the lowest since 1971, since 1984 and in California they're the lowest since 1963...

United States Crime Index Rates Per 100,000 Inhabitants

Year | Population | Index  
1971 206,212,000 4,164.7

2000 281,421,906 4,124.0
California Crime Index Rates Per 100,000 Inhabitants

Year | Population |  Index 
1963 17,590,000 3,787.0

2000 33,871,648 3,739.7
In the year 2000 California had an estimated population of 33,871,648 which ranked the state 1st in population. For that year the State of California had a total Crime Index of 3,739.7 reported incidents per 100,000 people.

The Ukiah Daily Journal reported, "Statewide crime statistics recently released by Attorney General Bill Lockyer marked a 5.2 percent decline in violent crime rates for 2004, with many serious crimes categories showing descending rates for the second consecutive year.

"The overall rate for violent crimes decreased more than 5 percent from 2003 to 2004, the report shows, with the homicide rate dropping 3 percent, forcible rape down by 5.1 percent, robbery lowering 4.9 percent and aggravated assault down 5.5 percent."

What else can be said? Sure crime rates in any amount are a concern and need to be addressed, but lets not get distracted from the real problems—the ones that are getting missed (e.g., World 'ignores' Niger food crisis), because so much space is being used for reporting on those "captivating" crime stories.

It's NOT more crime; it's LESS!

Reporting from the underground...

Stan Morris